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|Cultural origins||Mid- to late 1980s, Belgium|
The European new beat sound originated in Belgium in the late 1980s, especially in 1987 and 1988, this style of music was also popular in Nord-Pas-de-Calais (northern France). It was an underground danceable music style, well known at clubs and discos in Western Europe. It is a crossover of electronic body music (EBM, which also developed in Belgium) with the nascent Chicago-originated acid and house music. New beat is the immediate precursor of hardcore electronic dance music (at the time known as rave), which developed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere around 1990.
The genre was "accidentally invented" in the nightclub Ancienne Belgique (AB) in Brussels when DJ Dikke Ronny (literally "Fat Ronny") played the 45 rpm EBM record "Flesh" by A Split-Second at 33 rpm, with the pitch control set to +8. In addition to A Split-Second, the genre was also heavily influenced by other industrial and EBM acts such as Front 242 and The Neon Judgement, as well as new wave and dark wave acts such as Fad Gadget, Gary Numan, New Order and Anne Clark. Mega-nightclubs such as the Boccaccio soon made the genre a major underground success.
The Belgian sound was re-introduced to the United States market in 1989 as compilation album of various artists known as This Is the New Beat.
From 1988 to 1990, the genre spawned two short-lived subgenres or successor genres, hard beat and skizzo - the latter being a techno-influenced style, considerably faster than the original slow new beat style.
The most commercially successful new beat groups were The Lords of Acid, which received heavy airplay on the MTV Europe show Party Zone. A memorable novelty song was Qui...? (1989) by Brussels Sound Revolution, which sampled parts of a press conference speech by former Prime Minister Paul Vanden Boeynants after he was kidnapped by the gang of Patrick Haemers.
Modern new beat artists include 1788-L, and Rezz. И O T A K E R described the subgenre as a "fresh sound that’s been generally unexplored in the mainstream electronic realm," further commenting on the versatility of the subgenre, stating "the range of which you can produce in this tempo range can be extremely gritty and heavy to really melodic and beautiful to calm, relaxing and atmospheric." Rezz's new beat studio album Certain Kind of Magic peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums and her previous album Mass Manipulation received the Electronic Album of the Year awarded at the Juno Awards.
The rise of the new genre did not only launch new artists; a few new record labels also were set up, especially to release new beat records. They lived a golden era with, despite not being mainstream, massive sales, and not only in its home country Belgium but also in the rest of Europe and specifically Ireland and the United Kingdom. Roland Beelen (Bellucci of the above-mentioned Morton Sherman Bellucci) and Maurice Engelen (of Praga Khan) set up Antler-Subway Records. There was also R&S Records, launched by Renaat Vandepapeliere and his wife. Other labels include ARS, PIAS, ZYX Records and Music Man.
- Electronic body music (EBM)
- Popcorn - a Belgian music scene of the 1970s and 1980s based on dancing to slower or slowed down soul music
- "Sounds of Belgium – day one: a history of Belgian pop in 10 songs". The Guardian. 2 July 2012.
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- (in Dutch) Dikke Ronny, godfather van de New Beat, Studio Brussel (2 September 2013)
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